How to Improve Your Nutrition Through Fall Produce, According to a Registered Dietitian

WWith cooler weather comes new, seasonal, colorful foods that accompany our favorite warm, hearty dishes like chilis, casseroles, and muffins. There are abundant, nutrient-dense fall produce options, whether you choose to grow your own, visit a farmers market, or pay a visit to your local grocery store.

According to current dietary guidelines for Americans, 8,090% of people in the US do not meet the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. This translates into missed opportunities for essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and more.

Here are 10 of my favorite fall foods to add to your shopping list, some ideas for how to use them, and even some tips to make your prep a little easier.

10 Nutrient-Rich Fall Produce Options to Enjoy in Season

1. Kiwi

Kiwifruit packs a punch of nutrition, offering more than 75% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Kiwifruits are also rich in fiber and vitamin K. Did you know you can eat the skin of a kiwifruit? The skin provides additional folate, fiber and antioxidants. Although most people tend to think of the traditional green kiwi, there are many varieties and colors available. Kiwi can be a wonderful meat tenderizer and is also a great addition to smoothies, fruit salads, oatmeal and even homemade fruit popsicles.

2. Pears

Pears are one of the highest fiber fruits, offering 5.5 grams of fiber per medium pear, which translates to about 2,025% of the daily recommendation, which many Americans are not meeting. Pears are also a source of vitamin K, vitamin C, copper and folate, as well as several antioxidants. Pears can be a great addition to your morning bowl of oatmeal or yogurt, or they can be a sweet or tart addition to baked goods or salads.

3. Pomegranates

There’s nothing like a juicy pomegranate in the fall months, but it can be tricky to separate the sweet and tart arils from the fruit’s white rind and skin. To avoid removing the seed from a pomegranate (but still get the nutritional benefit!), you can buy just the arils to add to salads, grain bowls, stir-fries, yogurt, oatmeal, and more. POM Wonderful Pomegranate Arils are a good source of fiber, providing 4 grams of fiber per half cup, as well as polyphenol antioxidants, organic compounds found primarily in plants associated with a number of health benefits. Additionally, pomegranate juice can be a great mixer in fall drinks and a great way to add nutrition and flavor as a dip, dressing or syrup. There are 700 mg of polyphenol antioxidants in every 8 ounces of POM. Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice to help fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to our body over time.

4. Apples

Whether you prefer tart, sweet, or in between, crisp apples are a fall staple. These fruits make a great portable snack option for kids and adults alike and are a great pairing with nuts, seeds, and cheese. Add them to a salad for crunch, or enjoy them baked into pies, oatmeal, pies, or crumbles. Apples are rich in vitamin C and contain several polyphenols and antioxidants.

5. Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes (not to be confused with yams) are famous for being added to fall favorites like sweet potato pie and casserole. Not only do they add a pop of color to the dish, but they’re also full of vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Add some mashed sweet potatoes to your meatballs, pancakes, or oatmeal, or incorporate diced sweet potatoes into burritos, grain bowls, or any baked meal. To cook sweet potatoes more quickly, microwave them for 68 minutes instead of roasting them.

6. Brussels Sprouts

A regular star on the Thanksgiving table, Brussels sprouts pack a serious punch of nutrition. One cup serving provides more than 50% of the daily recommendations for vitamins C and K, which support immunity and heart health, respectively. These cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals that can help with immune function and reduce inflammation. Although they are deliciously roasted, Brussels sprouts can also be shaved and added to salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes.

7. Pumpkin

From acorns to zucchini, there are countless types of pumpkin available, each with a distinct flavor profile and different uses. In terms of nutrient-dense fall produce options, replace your typical bowl of spaghetti with spaghetti squash or even mix the two. Roasted and caramelized pumpkin is delicious on its own, pureed into a soup, or added as a nutrient-rich topping to salads, oatmeal, savory yogurt bowls, and more.

8. Beetroot

In fact, these earthy vegetables have a sweet hue and provide several antioxidants and micronutrients like folic acid, manganese, potassium and copper. Beets have been linked to heart health thanks to their dietary nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide regulates several vascular responses, such as blood pressure. The increased oxygen absorption also makes them a great food for athletes. Add this root vegetable to hummus, smoothies, sandwiches or salads.

Afraid of the stain that comes from cutting and roasting raw red beets? Opt for convenient ready-to-eat beet options like Love Beets Perfectly Pickled Beets, which can be used the same way you would use whole beets. Plus, they have 30% less sugar and 65% less sodium than other canned varieties.

9. Pumpkin

Perhaps the star of fall, pumpkins (which belong to the pumpkin family) aren’t just for picking and decorating. Canned pumpkin is a great addition to baked goods, oatmeal, soup, chili, and pasta. Indoor pumpkin seeds can also be roasted and added to salads and grain bowls to start. In terms of nutritional profile, pumpkin is rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, copper and iron, while pumpkin seeds are rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and healthy fats.

10. Cranberries

Cranberries have a variety of plant compounds and antioxidants, as well as fiber, manganese, vitamin E, and vitamin C. They are the richest fruit sources of proanthocyanidins, which are believed to offer protection against microbial pathogens. In addition to making cranberry sauce, try putting fresh or frozen cranberries into baked oatmeal, smoothies, salads, and yogurt parfaits.

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